Maclin gives Eagles a scare

Posted: June 04, 2014

THE EAGLES WERE down to their last organized-team-activity rep of the day, a red-zone drill, first-team offense vs. first-team defense. Reporters were starting to drift down out of the NovaCare stands, reviewing their interview plans for the day.

In an instant, all those plans were put on hold. Nick Foles threw to Jeremy Maclin at the goal line, and as Maclin planted and reached for the ball, he collided with corner Bradley Fletcher, linebacker Connor Barwin nearby. The ball bounced away. Maclin went down on his back, and grimaced. He stayed there, holding his left knee, raising and flexing it, as his teammates fell silent. A trainer hurried over and knelt at his side.

Eventually, Maclin stood up without assistance and walked to where the team was gathering around coach Chip Kelly for his practice-ending words. When the gathering broke, Maclin began striding quickly toward the locker room, without a limp.

"I'm OK, I'm straight," he told a pursuing reporter.

The Eagles don't have to provide injury reports from OTAs, so we don't know if Maclin was OK, as in "Just jammed it a little, all is perfectly fine, I'll be practicing Tuesday," or OK as in, "Whew, I don't think I tore another ACL, probably just a minor sprain."

Judging from Maclin on Twitter afterward, the first scenario seems likely. Yesterday afternoon, Maclin tweeted: "Perfect day outside . . . bout to take the pup for a walk!"

And still later yesterday on Twitter, Maclin said he was "good to go."

Maclin, of course, is the Eagles' No. 1 receiver, following the release of DeSean Jackson. He missed last season after tearing his right ACL on the first day of full-team training-camp work. Kelly has spoken repeatedly about his eagerness to see what Maclin can do in his offense. Maclin turned down a 5-year contract offer from the team, taking a 1-year deal, gambling that he'll play well enough to either force the Birds to up the ante during the season, or will break the bank in free agency. Didn't get a chance to ask him, but he might have been reviewing that decision as he lay on the ground looking at the clouds yesterday.

The sequence underlined the risks involved in the NFL's no-contact policy regarding OTAs. The players were wearing helmets but no pads, as is mandated, to take some of the injury risk out of spring work. There was no "hitting" and certainly no tackling allowed on the play, but two guys ran together, Maclin trying to catch the ball, Fletcher trying to make sure he didn't catch it. They ran together hard. As in the case with Sean Lee's torn ACL at the Dallas OTA last week, it's hard to watch these drills and come away viewing them as literally "noncontact." They just aren't.

Slotting Matthews

Second-round rookie wideout Jordan Matthews returned to OTAs after missing a day last week when he was selected to attend the NFLPA's Rookie Premiere event in Hollywood.

"I really appreciated the invitation. At the same time, it would have been better with a lot of my teammates that were deserving, too," Matthews said.

What'd he do?

"Signed some autographs, took some pictures, you know, the Hollywood stuff. I'm not too much into that. I was ready to get back to practice," he said.

Matthews (6-3, 212) worked the slot yesterday and made his presence felt. For one thing, he kept running at least 10 more yards after each play was over, then sprinted back to the huddle, a habit he said he developed at Vanderbilt.

"You gotta be physical," Matthews said, when asked what's important in playing the slot. "There's going to be a lot of big guys in there, linebackers and safeties in the box. People say you get to go up against some small nickel [corners], but they wouldn't put anybody in there unless they were stout and they had some pretty good strength."

Birdseed

You're allowed to miss a field goal in OTAs without seriously damaging your roster hopes, but rookie Carey "Murderleg" Spear missed one about as badly as anyone ever has yesterday. That rumor about flights being diverted at PHL probably isn't true . . . Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who sat out Thursday with a minor knee issue, was back at work yesterday, but wide receiver Jeff Maehl and offensive lineman Dennis Kelly were observers with unspecified injuries . . . Cary Williams was talking to reporters and said something about not having been here last year. That seemed like a strange thing for a 2013 starting cornerback to say until the realization dawned - he was talking about OTAs last year. Ah, yes. Sconce-shopping. How quickly we forget . . . Wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah, who last year seemed like the kind of project that never gets completed, actually made some tough catches and looked sharp yesterday.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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